Youth and Youth Culture -it’s been an obsession since the beginning of time. Every generation has been preoccupied in one way or another with preserving its youth, its vitality, its sense of urgency.
Most people (of a certain age) believe the obsession with Youth was the exclusive property of the Baby Boom generation (1945-1965). And it’s really only achieved national prominence because, quite frankly, that generation was the largest in population of many generations which preceded it.
This radio discussion, featuring prominent social critics of the day, focuses on Youth Culture of the 1950s, the generation before the Boomers, the ones who came of age during World War 2, who missed active involvement in the war and who were the parents of children born in the 1960s.
The same fears, the same arguments and the same obsession with preserving youth was just as prevalent in 1959 as it was in 1969.
We may find that hard to grasp – the vision of rebellion and youthful indiscretions seem to be topics for hand-wringing during a later decade. And even though the problem with juvenile delinquency was epidemic in the 1950s, the concern over it was largely glossed-over, or became the subject of social-consciousness films, TV news reports and magazine articles. Most of those considered the older generation thought it was just a rite of passage and something to grow out of.
As you’ll hear during this discussion, the tone is indicative of the tone so much a part of the 1950s. The issues of marriage, women in school – the roles of relationships. It all seems very quaint and backwards now, but these were serious issues in 1959. We were on the verge of something big happening, but we were still clinging on to old ideas which were labeled “traditional”. But the universal truth remained the same; nobody wanted to be considered old even then. Old means no longer useful, outmoded, in the way, a drain.
To get an idea of where we were as a nation and a society in 1959, here is that discussion via the Open Mind program from January 4, 1959. You may find ringing familiarity all over the place and you may realized not much ever changes, only perceptions and modes of dress and style.